Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Josh Radnor’s feature directorial debut Happythankyoumoreplease has severed ties with distributor Hannover House, and is negotiating a new deal to be distributed by Anchor Bay Films. The intention is to release the film theatrically.

The deal’s being made by Anchor Bay Films acquisition head Kevin Kasha, who most recently acquired City Island and the Michael Douglas-starrer Solitary Man, both of which had theatrical releases.

The film was written, directed and produced by Radnor, the star of the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and it premiered last January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award. Shortly after, the film’s North American and DVD rights were acquired by Hannover House, the Arkansas-based company that separately just received a cease and desist letter from Terminator rights holder Pacificor, a missive that followed Hannover House’s announced plans to make Terminator 3000, an animated 3D feature. While Hannover House did handle the release of another festival pickup, the Joel Schumacher-directed Twelve with Chace Crawford and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, there were rumbles of problems on Radnor’s film.

Happythankyoumoreplease is actually the third independent film to recently sever ties to a distribution company. I Love You Philip Morris was pulled back from upstart distributor Consolidated Pictures Group by producer/financier Luc Besson’s Europacorp, after three release dates were missed and CPG seemed unable to come up with promised P&A money. The George Hickenlooper-directed Kevin Spacey-starrer Casino Jack more recently severed its agreement with Metropolitan, for similar reasons.

The exit of studio-owned specialty distributors has created an opportunity for newcomers, but these recent incidents have become a cautionary tale for indie filmmakers and their financial backers. It is incredibly frustrating when films build momentum through triumphant festival premieres, only to lose that mojo by languishing when distributors don’t live up to promises. In the case of Phillip Morris, the film was released around the world, drawing accolades for performances by Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, while it sat on a shelf. Distribution is still being sorted out.

Happythankyoumoreplease stars Malin Akerman, Radnor, Kate Mara and Zoe Kazan, and the film also received the Audience Award at the Gen Art and Maui festivals.

Hannover House Chief Eric Parkinson confirmed the split with the makers of Happythankyoumoreplease, but said it was by mutual decision and would not comment further, other than to wish the film and its makers well.